imageAndrew Klavan tells us that we liberals need to open our minds to Rush Limbaugh, because every single objectionable thing he's said since Bush I was in office was all the result of the vast intolerance of liberals.

If you are reading this newspaper, the likelihood is that you agree with the Obama administration's recent attacks on conservative radio talker Rush Limbaugh. That's the likelihood; here's the certainty: You've never listened to Rush Limbaugh.

I actually spent two years (from 1993-1995) listening to him. It's what I did as a teenager instead of go Objectivist, sue me.

Oh no, you haven't. Whenever I interrupt a liberal's anti-Limbaugh rant to point out that the ranter has never actually listened to the man, he always says the same thing: "I've heard him!"

On further questioning, it always turns out that by "heard him," he means he's heard the selected excerpts spoon-fed him by the distortion-mongers of the mainstream media. These excerpts are specifically designed to accomplish one thing: to make sure you never actually listen to Limbaugh's show, never actually give him a fair chance to speak his piece to you directly.

For instance, when Limbaugh said of Michael J. Fox, "He is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He's moving all around and shaking and it's purely an act. ... This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting," what happened right after was that he cured Parkinson's. Bet you're sad you missed that show, eh?

By lifting some typically Rushian piece of outrageous hilarity completely out of context, the distortion gang knows full well it can get you to widen your eyes and open your mouth in the universal sign of Liberal Outrage. Your scrawny chest swelling with a warm sense of completely unearned righteousness, you will turn to your second spouse and say, "I'm not a liberal, I'm a moderate, and I'm tolerant of a wide range of differing views -- but this goes too far!"

Yes, folks. The reason you don't listen to Rush Limbaugh is because you're a scrawny girly-man, too busy leafing gingerly through petite issues of the New Yorker to budge that terribly heavy dial towards Rush's ongoing radio revolution. It's almost assured that when entire segments of the man's show are replayed ad nauseum, your belief that Rush Limbaugh is paranoid, hateful scum is based on little more than your terribly weak constitution being swayed by the gentlest nudge of liberal media bias. You are Daniel LaRusso. Rush Limbaugh is Cobra Kai. There is no Miyagi.

There is more untruthfulness in that statement than in a speech by President Obama. Even the commas are self-deceiving. You're not a moderate or you wouldn't be reading this newspaper. You're not tolerant of a wide range of views; you are tolerant of a narrow spectrum of variations on your views. And, whatever you claim, you still haven't listened to Rush Limbaugh.

Well, I did, for two years. And according to Ann Althouse's comments section, I'm not a scrawny girly-man, I'm a fat, powerful pedophile. You people need to get your shit straight.

Which leads to a question: Why not? I mean, come on, the guy's one of the figures of the age. Aren't you even curious? I listen to all your guys: NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, The Times, the New York Times, the New Yorker -- I check out the whole left-wing hallelujah chorus. Why are you afraid to spend a couple of hours listening to Limbaugh's show and seriously considering if and why you disagree with him?

...Because if I listen and disagree with him, you're just going to say it's because I'm brainwashed? And if I listen for a month and disagree with him, it'll be because I'm not listening properly? And if I listen for long enough and then stop listening for even a day, you'll make me start over, because you're making me into Sisyphus and we don't even get to tell on your Zeus. So really, this whole thing is fucking pointless.

Let me guess at your answer. You don't need to listen to him. You've heard enough to know he's a) racist, b) hateful, c) stupid, d) merely an outrageous entertainer not to be taken seriously or e) all of the above.

Now let me tell you the real answer: You're a lowdown, yellow-bellied, lily-livered intellectual coward. You're terrified of finding out he makes more sense than you do.

That's it! That's exactly it! I don't spend two hours a day every day listening to make sure that my opinion of Rush Limbaugh hasn't changed because I'm a little bitch! Seriously, fuck me, I suck!

Oh, and I also don't have two hours a day to spend listening to something that I already know (because I've listened to him) I'm going to ahte, what with the actual productive things I do in society.

I listen to Limbaugh every chance I get, and I have never heard the man utter a single racist, hateful or stupid word. Do I always agree with him? Of course not. I'm a conservative; I think for myself. But Limbaugh, by turns insightful, satiric, raucously funny and wise, is one of the best voices talking about first principles and policy in the country today.

Your scrawny chest swelling with a warm sense of completely unearned righteousness, you will turn to your second spouse and say, "I'm not a liberal, I'm a moderate conservative, and I'm tolerant of a wide range of differing views an "independent thinker" -- but this goes too far is exactly right!"

Well done, sir.

Therefore, I am throwing down my gauntlet at your quivering liberal feet. I hereby issue my challenge -- the Limbaugh Challenge: Listen to the show. Not for five minutes but for several hours: an hour a day for several days. Consider what he has to say -- the real policy material under the jokes and teasing bluster. Do what your intellectual keepers do not want you to do and keep an open mind. Ask yourself: What's he getting at? Why does he say the things he says? Why do so many people of goodwill -- like that nice Mr. Klavan -- agree with him?

How about I don't do this and I'm just willing to believe that Rush Limbaugh draws 15 million(ish) assholes with overinflated senses of self worth every day? That's a compromise that works out for everyone. By the way, when does a liberal from the L.A. Times get to run an unanswered segment on Limbaugh's show? How long do I have to listen for that?

In a similar vein, Robert Stacy McCain hyperventilates about the "ransom-note method", which is a really stupid way of saying "misquoting" (the one thing we've learned from the right over the past few years is that there's no reason to say what 95% of people can understand when you can say it in a way that only 25% of them do - Dred Scott!!!). The one example he comes up with is how terribly unfair it was to tease out that Rush Limbaugh wants Barack Obama to fail. All he said was this:

Obama is trying to implement a liberal agenda. I am not a liberal, and I think liberalism is bad for the country. Therefore, I hope Obama fails in his attempt to implement it.

Limbaugh, you see, was not saying that he hopes Obama fails as a President. He was merely saying that he hopes Obama fails in what he hopes to do as President. Thanks to a legendary conversation on LaShawn Barber's site in 2003, the infinitive "to do" now has a definition spanning 3,500 words across four blog posts which absolves all conservatives of any fallout for anything they ever say when it's invoked.

If you'd just kept up, you'd get this.

He then goes on to very clearly detail how Rush Limbaugh was asked a question that many other people were asked - and was asked the question by a "major American print publication"!

And Limbaugh, as he made clear from the outset, was responding to a "major American print publication" which was "asking a handful of very prominent politicians, statesmen, scholars, businessmen, commentators, and economists to write 400 words on their hope for the Obama presidency."

The fact that Limbaugh's "I hope he fails" was a response to such an insipid inquiry -- this newspaper was actually framing their inaugural commentary in terms of "Hope," the Obama campaign's own propaganda slogan -- has received too little attention. One of the basic tactics of the Ransom-Note Method is to separate the stimulus from the response in this manner. In other words, someone sees or hears something outrageous, says or writes something outrageous in response, and the smear merchants then isolate the response, so that it is presented without adequate reference to whatever stimulus produced it.

This would totally make sense if:

1.) The question was in some way biased beyond the use of a word that Obama also used.

2.) Limbaugh's wish to see Obama fail was in any way influenced by the invisibly pernicious nature of an insanely straightforward question.

3.) Conservatives hadn't spent every waking moment between 9/11/01 and 1/20/09 declaring that anyone who wished ill upon the President's plans wished ill upon the very essence of the grand experiment that is America.

4.) It made sense. I think this one should have gone first.

I bring this post up (and skip over its subsequent paragraphs of ranting about how David Brooks is going to find a decapitated Peep in his bed or...something) because it points out the inherent failure of the right over the past several years, much of which began around the leadup to the Iraq War. Republicans decided that the most important thing about committing our troops to an endless war in a foreign country was not the reason for entering the conflict, the plan for achieving success or even what success was, but showing the French that we could rename the fried potato sticks which they inflicted on our unsuspecting population.

The message machine of the Right used to be a vaunted, focused terror, coming up with the Contract for America, "welfare queens" and a fairly widespread conspiracy involving the President of the United States killing his lesbian man-wife's lover and leaving his body in the middle of a cemetery. Now, it's an incomprehensible mix of George Soros references, birth certificate theories and Ayn Rand characters. And, quite frankly, there's nothing quite so good for the country as letting them continue down this path. Sure, your inbox will swell slightly fuller with racist e-mails from high school classmates and second cousins, and yeah, watching MSNBC from midnight to 8PM and 10PM to midnight will continue to be massively painful, but at the end, it's worth it.

We saw it in the immolation of John McCain's campaign, which thought that a plumber and an Alaska lady with kids who don't go to school would stand in for an agenda and outreach beyond the conservative base. And now we're seeing it in this whiny, aggrieved insistence that Rush Limbaugh is the victim of the greatest conspiracy of communication since Jews were blamed for the Black Death. Conservatives don't just miss being in charge of the message - they're owed dominion over it, and you're getting sand kicked in your face until you give in.